Seth: As you read the words upon this page, you realize that the information that you are receiving is not an attribute of the letters of the words themselves. The printed line does not contain information. It transmits information. Where is the information that is being transmitted then, if it is not upon the page?
The same question of course applies when you read a newspaper, and when you speak to another person. Your actual words convey information, feelings, or thoughts. Obviously the thoughts or the feelings, and the words, are not the same thing. The letters upon the page are symbols, and you have agreed upon various meanings connected with them. You take it for granted without even thinking of it that the symbols – the letters – are not the reality – the information or thoughts – which they attempt to convey.
Now in the same way, I am telling you that objects are also symbols that stand for a reality whose meaning the objects, like the letters, transmit. The true information is not in the objects any more than the thought is in the letters or in words. Words are methods of expression. So are physical objects in a different kind of medium. You are used to the idea that you express yourselves directly through words. You can hear yourself speak them. You can feel the muscles in your throat move, and if you are aware, you can perceive multitudinous reactions within your own body actions that all accompany your speech.
- Physical objects are the result of another kind of expression. You create them as surely as you create words. I do not mean that you create them with your hands alone, or through manufacture. I mean that objects are natural by-products of the evolution of your species, even as words are. Examine for a moment your knowledge of your own speech, however. Though you hear the words and recognize their appropriateness, and though they may more or less approximate an expression of your feeling, they are not your feeling, and there must be a gap between your thought and your expression of it.
The familiarity of speech begins to vanish when you realize that you, yourself, when you begin a sentence do not know precisely how you will end it, or even how you form the words. You do not consciously know how you manipulate a staggering pyramid of symbols, picking from them precisely those you need to express a given thought. For that matter, you do not know how you think.
You do not know how you translate these symbols upon this page into thoughts, and then store them, or make them your own. Since the mechanisms of normal speech are so little known to you on a conscious level, then it is not surprising that you are equally unaware of more complicated tasks that you also perform – such as the constant creation of your physical environment as a method of communication and expression.
It is only from this viewpoint that the true nature of physical matter can be understood. It is only by comprehending the nature of this constant translation of thoughts and desires – not into words now, but into physical objects – that you can realize your true independence from circumstance, time, and environment.
Now, it is easy to see that you translate feelings into words or bodily expressions and gestures, but not quite as easy to realize that you form your physical body as effortlessly and unselfconsciously as you translate feelings into symbols that become words.
You have heard the expression before, I am sure, that the environment expresses a particular individual’s personality. I am telling you that this is a literal and not symbolic truth. The letters upon the page have the reality only of ink and paper. The information they convey is invisible. As an object, this book itself is only paper and ink. It is a carrier of information.